President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has been lauded for ending the controversial ban on HIV positive travellers and immigrants to the US.

The reversal of the ban, which he announced on Friday, will go into effect in early 2010.

“Lifting a policy that so clearly violates both human rights and public health needs is long past due,” said Joe Amon, director of the Health and Human Rights division at Human Rights Watch. “Countries around the world that still have bans should follow this example.”

The US has excluded non-citizens living with HIV from admission to the US for more than two decades.

The regulations bar non-citizens living with HIV from entering the United States. They also prevent HIV-positive non-citizens from becoming permanent residents, except in limited circumstances.

On Friday, Obama also extended, for another four years, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act which supports programmes that provide care for more than half a million low-income people living with HIV and AIDS in the US.

“Today’s actions signal both to Americans and to the world that the United States is a nation that will care for those most in need at home and will no longer close the door to HIV-positive people abroad. Today, President Obama has extended one of our nation’s proudest responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and finally erased one of our most shameful,” commented Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

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